For the first time, scientists have created vocal cord tissue made with cells from actual human vocal cords. When tested in the lab, the bioengineered tissue vibrated—and even sounded—similarly to the natural thing. What’s more, researchers were able to customize the tissue for children or adults, providing hope to the 20 million Americans suffering from temporary or permanent voice impairment. ?
When did humans first occupy the Americas? The debate took a new twist this week when a team of archaeologists claimed to have found the oldest stone tools in the New World. The 39 artifacts—found near the southern tip of Chile—were dated to 18,500 years ago. If the research holds true, then the peopling of the Americas began 4000 years earlier than previously thought.
It may sound like a bird-brained idea, but scientists have trained pigeons to spot cancer in images of biopsied tissue. Individually, the avian analysts can’t measure up to professional pathologists, but as a flock, they were able to spot cancer in breast tissue biopsy images with 99% accuracy. That’s on par with human experts and more reliable than a computer doing automatic image analysis. Get these birds a degree!
The multibillion-dollar ITER megaproject—an international effort to build an experimental fusion reactor—will take another 6 years to build beyond the official schedule, say project managers, who are asking their seven international partners for additional funding to finish the job. It remains unclear whether the project, backed by China, the European Union, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States, will get what it wants. A final schedule is due after partner delegations finish their own review, in June 2016.
Late last month, hundreds of people in two Washington, D.C., suburbs received a letter in the mail claiming that one of their neighbors was tied to animal abuse at a government lab. The letters, sent by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, targeted U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins and NIH researcher Stephen Suomi, revealing their home addresses and phone numbers and urging their neighbors to call and visit them. Critics say the animal rights group has crossed the line with their latest tactic.
Parasitic worms bore into our organs, steal our nutrients, and sup on our blood—but their effects aren’t all harmful. A new study of Amazonian women found that certain intestinal worms may actually encourage conception. For example, the intestinal roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides induces immune system changes that promote reproduction. Scientists say these results may spark other investigations on the reproductive impact of the worms.
Paws off cyber squatters, because news.sciencemag.org is taken! 24小时娱乐在线’s correspondent investigates a confidential tip that fraudsters are snatching internet domains from right under the noses of academic publishers. These URL thieves put up fake versions of journal websites, and collect author fees and subscription fees. Website spoofing has been around for years, but only recently have scholarly journals become a target. The takeaway for publishers? Stop being careless about website administration and security.
Talk about flower power! Fifteen years ago researchers asked whether it would be possible to place electronics inside trees in order to eavesdrop on the biochemical processes, and now a team of researchers has found a way to craft flexible electronic circuits inside plants. Eventually such circuitry may help farmers eavesdrop on their crops and control when they ripen, and it could even allow people to harness energy from trees and shrubs by plugging directly into their photosynthesis machinery.